Gay marriage opponent Kim Davis says the Vatican extended an unsolicited invitation for a private meeting with Pope Francis last week – and is pushing back at the Holy See's assertion
the get-together wasn't something the pontiff sought.
According to religious liberty advocate Liberty Counsel, the Kentucky county clerk who went to jail
for refusing to honor the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage spoke with papal representative Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano about a Sept. 24 meeting.
"This meeting was a private meeting. No other members of the public were present," Liberty Counsel declared
in a Friday "facts" sheet.
Davis, her husband, Joe, and lawyer Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, arrived in Washington the night before the audience, Liberty Counsel's statement recounts.
The next day, the Davis' were whisked away by security personnel with "heavy Italian accents," though Staver kept in contact, according to the statement.
"Kim and Joe Davis were placed in a room with no one else present," Liberty Counsel declares. "Later Pope Francis arrived with only Vatican or Embassy personnel and security."
"He stretched out his hands," the statement said. "Kim clasped his hands, and he asked her to pray for him. She said she would, and she asked the Pontiff to pray for her, to which he said he would."
"Pope Francis then thanked Kim for her 'courage'." the statement added. "They embraced. The Pope said, 'Stay strong.' He then presented Kim and Joe with two rosaries. There was no line of people or other members of the public seen anywhere."
Liberty Counsel maintains the meeting was "kept secret" until the following Tuesday, when the group was permitted to announce it.
"She will always cherish the opportunity," Staver said in the statement.
That version of events was vigorously backed up by GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee in an interview Friday
on Newsmax TV's "The Steve Malzberg Show."
"[There was] no one but she, her husband and the pope and one of his personnel…. He affirmed with her, her right to religious liberty," Huckabee tells Newsmax TV.
Yet one Vatican official insisted there was a "sense of regret"
about the meeting afterward.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi, in a statement Friday, said Davis was one of "several dozen" people who had been invited by the Vatican ambassador to see the pope while he was in Washington.
"The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects," Lombardi said in a statement.
"The only real audience granted by the Pope at the Nunciature (Vatican embassy) was with one of his former students and his family."
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